REVIEW OF Blyth Academy Lawrence Park BY parent, Vanita Jassal
- Date of Review
December 15, 2022
- Child 1
Gr. 10 (Male, Current Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
My son has low self-esteem and benefits from unique learning experiences. We met with Sarah when planning to transition to Blyth. She was direct, honest, and supportive about what the school could offer and how my son would fit in. Since being there he has blossomed socially and made strides in his collaborative and independent work. He still faces challenges, but instead of hearing about these as challenges, I hear from teachers who tell me how they are altering their approach and in what way I can support him at home. The communication is excellent, the approach flexible, and the excitement my son exhibits when talking about his school day is rewarding. He comes home and now tells me about his school day. Who said what, what the projects are, which students he is working with etc. He still does not like doing the work... but overall loves the school.
(5) School Leadership
Yes, we have had some issues as a result of my son's choices! The teacher was quick to let me know there was a potential issue and took an approach where they asked questions rather than made assumptions that my son was in the wrong. The school leadership was obviously made aware and the situation was discussed. They made a decision, but prior to any action called me to discuss. Importantly, the school leadership adapted the consequences to the comments and observations that I had made in our conversation.
The teachers are great!! The course outline is available to parents. There are clear statements of what is being taught. My son (who rarely complements teachers) seems to really like the teaching style and has been heard to say, "x person makes it really easy to understand!" From a parent's perspective, the teachers are approachable and happy to communicate honestly and directly. They set expectations for the students, and encourage the student very clearly, from the outset. They will guide the parent to help the child. For example, I wrote to ask about the grade given on one particular assignment and was given detailed information on the areas and concepts my son was inattentive to, as well as how to get him to better use the marking rubric.
I am not sure I can comment on the weaknesses, as we have not been there long enough. One limitation may be that the teaching standards are high, and that, particularly at higher grades, there is no course for students following an "Applied" pathway. The range of courses offered is limited, and largely follows that of the compulsory components needed for a high school diploma. Optional courses are understandably fewer than in other larger schools. I still feel the courses offered are sufficiently varied to make it fun for the kids as well as useful for their future. The school counselor has helped determine my son's curriculum this year to maximize his success. Teaching is both didactic and through other methods. Students seem to work in groups collaboratively on many projects, encouraging positive learning and communication.
There are extracurricular activities. I found it interesting that my son signed up for things, but they don't seem to happen. I am unsure if my son plays a role in this. One absolute positive is that school admission comes with a gym membership! It's a great way to build a healthy life outlook. Thank you!!
We have been part of this school community for a few months only. As a result, I think I cannot comment too much about the student body, its size, or its activities. From my own perspective, however, I see such a positive change in my son's social skills that I can only be impressed. He has a strong group of friends and seems to enjoy free time both during and after school as a result. At the parent-teacher meetings, I did meet several of the older students as they were guiding parents to the correct rooms. I saw cohesiveness, and camaraderie when I was there and heard them having a fair amount of fun despite being "at work"! Their interactions with teachers also seemed very natural and unforced.
(4.5) School Life
My child does love this school. When he first joined, he was rather cautious and spoke much about differences. He was making comparisons with his previous school, especially about physical differences like the building or the gym, etc. It did not take long, however, for him to come home with a more person-related chat about the school day. Now I can confidently say he loves the community. As a teenager, there is not always a lot of communication happening, but I do hear stories of the students across different grades, about the teachers and (albeit less often!) the leadership. He tells each of these stories with respect and enthusiasm and a passion for the school. He seems to be receptive to the need for rules and to the expectations placed on him. All in all, good!
I do not know that I can comment on the Blyth community extensively, as we have been part of the school for less than 4 months. I do feel as a parent that I am involved in the life of the school, and that there is strong communication between the school and the parents. There have been some wider events - such as sports events that have involved the other Blyth campus programs - but these were largely at the student level. I have not met or interacted with parents, beyond brief chats with my son's friend's parents when the kids meet. I am unaware of a wider parent community, although have not sought more involvement. I do not know if there is a parent council.
(5) School Location
The location is well-placed and new students would find it easy to use public transit. For parents, it is relatively easy to get parking nearby when attending parent-teacher meetings or if you have to pop in for some other reason. Students have activities such as gym and sports in a nearby church hall and so are out and about. This year so far there have been 2 school trips or events with other schools that my son has participated in, and it is only December!
The application process was quite straightforward and relatively fast. The school has year-round admissions, so there is no deadline. In our case, the school was recommended by two different people. Initially, I phoned with exploratory questions, just to get some basic information. I found the information given most constructive. At the time of my second call, Sarah (the admissions officer who took my call) asked several questions about my son, and got a sense of our needs, and offered to arrange a tour. We met in person and were able to chat more, discussing both opportunities and challenges. After that the process was smooth sailing. The documentation process is clearly laid out and pretty standard. There were no real issues. Fees are paid upfront for the whole year.